The Rhode Island Department of Health (RI DOH) has launched a statewide effort to provide flu vaccine in Rhode Island schools and communities. Students at every school in Rhode Island can receive flu vaccine free of charge at a vaccination clinic organized for their school, many of which are also open to members of the public. Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, kicked off this year's campaign by administering flu shots at a clinic at Esek Hopkins Middle School today and encouraging Rhode Islanders to protect themselves and their families this flu season by being vaccinated.
Approximately 100 people received flu shots at the school clinic in Providence. In addition to administering vaccinations, Dr. Alexander-Scott also received a flu shot. RI DOH is partnering with schools to organize 264 school flu clinics throughout the state.
"A flu shot is your best protection against the flu," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "The flu can put a serious strain on families, schools, businesses, the healthcare system, and our economy. I will be getting my flu shot this year. I urge everyone to do the same, encourage their family members, neighbors, and friends to get theirs, and help us make this year's flu vaccination campaign the most successful yet."
"By being vaccinated now, you can get the maximum protection this flu season and help prevent the spread of the flu," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "Even if you don't have health insurance or can't afford a flu shot, there are clinics across Rhode Island where you can be vaccinated for free. Flu shots are safe and are easier to get than ever before."
The flu can cause serious illness and even death. Last year, the flu sent 1,156 Rhode Islanders to the hospital and resulted in 40 deaths. Approximately 43% of the state was vaccinated (446,860 Rhode Islanders).
Everyone older than 6 months of age should get a flu shot every year. Because flu viruses adapt, a flu shot that someone received last flu season will not protect against the flu this year. Flu shots are especially important for the elderly, healthcare workers, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions. Examples of chronic medical conditions include diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced that the flu vaccine this year will be a better match for the circulating strains than last year's vaccine.
People can be vaccinated against the flu by their doctors, at pharmacies, at school clinics, and at community clinics. Most evening school clinics, like the clinic at Esek Hopkins Middle School, are open to members of the community. There is no charge to be vaccinated at school clinics, and there are no health insurance requirements. (However, people who are insured are asked to bring their insurance cards.) Dates and locations for school and community clinics can be found online: http://www.health.ri.gov/find/vaccinations/
People with questions about the flu or flu clinics can contact RI DOH at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.